Mill managers cleared of health and safety charges following explosion

May 12, 2021

Two mill managers have been cleared of health and safety offences following an explosion which killed four people in 2015.

The explosion at the wood mill in Bosley, Cheshire, on 17 July 2015, killed cleaner Dorothy Bailey, 62, maintenance fitter Derek William Barks, known as Will, 51, mill worker Derek Moore, 62, and chargehand Jason Shingler, 38, whose body was never recovered.

Mill manager Peter Shingler, 56, of Tunstall Road, Bosley, and operations manager Philip Smith, 58, of Raglan Road, Macclesfield, had each been charged with a health and safety offence but, following a 12-week trial, the jury was directed to return not guilty verdicts. The case was heard on 30 April.

Their acquittal came after the jury was directed to find mill owner George Boden and firm Wood Treatment Ltd not guilty of manslaughter charges.

Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said: “…the position has now been reached that the prosecution will not continue to seek guilty verdicts in the case of Mr Smith and Mr Shingler.”

After he was cleared of four counts of gross negligence manslaughter, Boden pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Wood Treatment Ltd had admitted a health and safety offence before going on trial charged with corporate manslaughter. The manslaughter charges were dropped following an application to dismiss on behalf of the defendants at the end of the prosecution case.

In her judgement, later confirmed by the Court of Appeal, Judge Mrs Justice May ruled there was not enough evidence to prove that gross negligence caused the explosion.

During the trial, which began in early February, the court heard the damage caused to the mill had made it impossible for investigators to determine the cause of the blast. The prosecution said it involved an explosion of wood dust allegedly caused by negligence on the part of the company and management, who they claimed knew dust levels were excessively high.

The jury heard evidence that employees had raised concerns about safety at the mill in the years leading up to the explosion and reported “mounds” of wood dust piling up.

Sentencing of Mr Boden and Wood Treatment Ltd will take place on 18 June.

 

This is valid as of 12th May 2021.

Two mill managers have been cleared of health and safety offences following an explosion which killed four people in 2015. The explosion at the wood mill in Bosley, Cheshire, on 17 July 2015, killed cleaner Dorothy Bailey, 62, maintenance fitter Derek William Barks, known as Will, 51, mill worker Derek Moore, 62, and chargehand Jason Shingler, 38, whose body was never recovered. Mill manager Peter Shingler, 56, of Tunstall Road, Bosley, and operations manager Philip Smith, 58, of Raglan Road, Macclesfield, had each been charged with a health and safety offence but, following a 12-week trial, the jury was directed to return not guilty verdicts. The case was heard on 30 April. Their acquittal came after the jury was directed to find mill owner George Boden and firm Wood Treatment Ltd not guilty of manslaughter charges. Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said: “…the position has now been reached that the prosecution will not continue to seek guilty verdicts in the case of Mr Smith and Mr Shingler.” After he was cleared of four counts of gross negligence manslaughter, Boden pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Wood Treatment Ltd had admitted a health and safety offence before going on trial charged with corporate manslaughter. The manslaughter charges were dropped following an application to dismiss on behalf of the defendants at the end of the prosecution case. In her judgement, later confirmed by the Court of Appeal, Judge Mrs Justice May ruled there was not enough evidence to prove that gross negligence caused the explosion. During the trial, which began in early February, the court heard the damage caused to the mill had made it impossible for investigators to determine the cause of the blast. The prosecution said it involved an explosion of wood dust allegedly caused by negligence on the part of the company and management, who they claimed knew dust levels were excessively high. The jury heard evidence that employees had raised concerns about safety at the mill in the years leading up to the explosion and reported “mounds” of wood dust piling up. Sentencing of Mr Boden and Wood Treatment Ltd will take place on 18 June.   This is valid as of 12th May 2021.

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